Water rates in Greensboro are going up 4.0 percent beginning July 1, assuming that the Greensboro City Council approves the budget recommended by City Manager David Parrish. Since the City Council has shown almost no interest in the budget that seems like a sure thing.
So if Greensboro water users don’t want to pay a higher bill, about their only option is to use less water. Greensboro Water Resources Director Steve Drew in an email said that people in Greensboro were already using less water and it’s part of a national trend. Drew noted that the water saving devices common in most homes, appeared to be having an effect. But he also noted that comparing water usage from one year to another was complicated because there were so many variables like rainfall that effected the city’s water usage.
Comparing water usage in 2007 to 2018 for example shows a considerable drop in per capita consumption in Greensboro from 124 gallons a day in 2007 to 99 gallons a day in 2018.
But Drew said that could be deceptive because 2007 was a drought year with 32 inches of rain and 2018 set a new record for rainfall at 69.7 inches. The average rainfall in Greensboro is 42 inches a year.
Since people don’t water their yards and gardens nearly as much in a wet year as a dry one, just the weather could account for a good bit of that reduction in usage, not people trying to be more water conscious.
But it is interesting that in years when the city, because of drought conditions, has less water people are using more water and in years like 2018 when the city is dumping water out of the lakes so it won’t top the dams the city is using less water. It sounds like it’s enough to keep a water resources director up at night.
Drew also said that industry accounts for some of the reduction for example when a company starts recycling the water used for cooling, it can cut water usage considerably.
Drew did note that water usage in the US is on a downward trend. A study done every five years by the US Department of the Interior showed that water usage in the US in 2015 was 322 billion gallons a day which was down 9 percent from the same study done in 2010 and is the lowest level since before 1970.
It’s hard to imagine that 322 billion gallons a day is a low rate of water usage, but it is.
It should also be remembered that as large consumers use more water, the actual rate for the water goes DOWN not UP. This is common practice in municipal water programs. Perhaps a change in this business model is needed rather than a water rate increase to all users.